Flight 338 ‘Convict Air’ – The Riddle Within

An ATR42-300 airliner entered service with Air Queensland from new as VH-AQD in May 1986 before leaving the southern hemisphere after just over a year for use firstly with JAT Yugoslav Airlines then with a number of other European airlines (see below). The last of these airlines was to be Blue Islands from 2013 to 2016 serving as G-ISLG for flights to the Channel Islands. Upon retirement Air Salvage International at Cotswold Airport began the parting out of the airframe but rather than being scrapped the fuselage was to find uses elsewhere. Visitors to the Bournemouth Air Festival in 2017 may have seen it on the beach modified into an Aerobar painted as ‘Immense Air’. Entertainment business Immense Events had carried out major rework of the fuselage to create a bar with side opening hatches and internal kitchen facilities with the intention of touring the bar to outdoor events around the country. It was stored initially over that winter of 2017/2018 at Bournemouth Aviation Museum but the touring plans did not materialise and so its next move was from the museum to the Greenwich Peninsula, London in April 2019. It was lowered into position in the grounds of Studio 338. a nightclub, at which its life as a bar was briefly utilised prior to conversion to an altogether different purpose.

The Riddle Within immersive entertainment business has carried out repairs and further extensive work required at first to return it to the appearance of an airliner and then with the addition of cages and chains to transform it into the world’s first aircraft escape room. It opened for business in November 2019 and has been very popular with prospective escapees. Escape rooms have become an increasingly popular attraction, and for the first time includes the option of breaking out from an aircraft. Handcuffed participants board the ‘prison flight’ tasked with escaping their chains and the cages inside using clues found within.


VH-AQD             Air Queensland                   16.05.86               Left Fleet

YU-ALK              JAT Yugoslav Airlines          03.07.87               Left Fleet

OY-CIG               DLT                                      03.12.90               Left Fleet

OY-CIG               Lufthansa Cityline                15.03.92               Left Fleet

OY-CIG               Holmstroem Air                   01.10.94               Left Fleet

OY-CIG               Cimber Air                           21.06.95                Left Fleet

F-WKVB              ATR                                      30.06.08                Left Fleet

F-HAAV               Atlantique Air Assistance    05.12.08                Left Fleet

G-ISLG                Blue Islands                         13.02.13         Scrapping commenced 2016

Royal Wedding of Prince Harry & Meghan Markle – Windsor – 19 May 2018

An early start and an arrival into Windsor & Eton Riverside station on the first train service of the day saw the sun rising over those who had slept the night on the streets – either as a choice to save a viewing space or due to life’s hardships. The town of Windsor surrounding the Castle and St. George’s Chapel is small and compact allowing little room for the many thousands of people expected to attend the wedding and so the Windsor Great Park either side of The Long Walk was arranged as the main spectator area, with facilities set up for the huge numbers expected.


By 7am the fence lines had been filled by those that had arrived early enough to get a prime view, all looking at a five hour wait before a first – but very brief – view of the bride. Those many tens of thousands that followed into the park had to make do with the images displayed on the big screens. Due possibly to being traditionally late the Rolls Royce Phantom IV carrying Meghan Markle and her mother Doria Ragland sped through towards Windsor Castle at a fair rate of knots followed closely by security vehicles.


All eyes then turned to the screens to watch the ceremony, before the now Duke and Duchess of Sussex took to an Ascot landau for a carriage procession through the town and into the park. This time they did spare the horses, allowing people a better view of the newlyweds.


It took many hours for the crowds to disperse, with many people just giving in to the fatigue of spending six hours or more of waiting in the heat.


Back at the Castle guests could be seen leaving and TV outside broadcasters wrapping up their coverage.


Images are available for print or editorial use from: Alamy stock photography

The ‘Classique’ Road Race – London – 29 July 2017

The ‘Classique’ is the richest women’s one day race in professional cycling with a prize of 25,000 Euros to the winning individual, and 10,000 Euros to the winning team. It is part of the Prudential RideLondon weekend and a leg of the UCI World Tour. The race takes place on a 5.5km route starting and finishing in The Mall and taking in Constitution Hill, Birdcage Walk, Whitehall and Strand. The race was won by Coryn Rivera (USA) of team Sunweb in testing wet conditions.


P-51B ‘Berlin Express’ Flies to UK from the States – IWM Duxford, Cambs – 4 July 2017

A North American P-51B Mustang fighter named ‘Berlin Express’ has flown from the US to Duxford tracing the route it flew in 1942; via Canada, Greenland, Iceland and Scotland. Many aircraft did the same as part of the build up of forces in wartime UK, usually in large groups. Some failed to complete the journey. ‘Berlin Express’ was accompanied by a Beech King Air. The P-51 it represents came to fame when reportedly flying UNDER the Eiffel Tower during a dogfight in 1944. Pilot Lee Lauderback made the 5470 mile flight so that the Mustang can take part in the Flying Legends airshow at the weekend and RIAT a week later, the first time this early mark of P-51 has flown in Europe since the war. Following its arrival at Duxford the long range tanks were removed in preparation for display practices.


Southend Raft Race – Thorpe Bay, Essex – 25 June 2017

Last run in the 1990s, the Raft Race returned for 2017. Various amateur teams built their own rafts and raced from Thorpe Bay, east of Southend town, on a short course in the Thames Estuary . The event organised by Thorpe Bay Rotary Club raised funds for various charities including the local RNLI, who supplied cover for the event. Strong winds and choppy seas made the going hard with few vessels making the finish line, and some travelled further backwards than forwards! One group winning raft had local Olympian Dean Macey amongst the crew, but the overall win went to the Watchcraft team.


Trooping the Colour – The Mall – 17 June 2017

The annual ceremony was a little more subdued this year with The Queen initiating a minutes silence to the lives lost in recent events. The Colour was trooped by 1st Battalion Irish Guards, with regimental mascot Domhnall joining the parade along The Mall. Crowd numbers were down on previous years, possibly in part due to the heat as well as the fears for safety. The Duke of Edinburgh took his place by The Queen’s side for the first time in a suit having announced that he would be stepping back from public engagements.


Celebrity Charity Football Match – Hullbridge, Essex – 18 June 2017

A Celeb FC team took on a Hullbridge XI at their Hullbridge Sports and Social Club ground to raise funds for Crossroads Care, helping Brentwood and Basildon carers. Organised by Karin Flower (winner of the Inspirational Woman of the Year Award 2017), the celebrity team included Rob Lamarr (Ch5 TV), DJ Pied Piper (‘Do You Really Like It’), George Gilbey (Gogglebox), Marlon Wallen and Jason Burrill (Big Brother), Josh Croswell (model), musicians and singers J Millz and Derry Mensah, plus semi-pro footballers Paul Shelock, Callum Flanagan, Ady Thomson and Chris Jennings and also Darren Taylor (sponsor).

In stifling 30 degrees C heat the celebrities took an early three goal lead in a surprisingly aggressive game with no quarter asked or given, before the home team finally pulled back to take a 5-3 win. Injuries had effectively left the celebrity team with no substitutes which may well have played a factor in the result, but it was all for a worthy cause.

See Celeb FC for future events.


World Naked Bike Ride London – Westminster Bridge – 10 June 2017

The World Naked Bike Ride in London is a friendly protest against car culture, pollution and oil dependency, and gives people the chance to prove that the bike is a great alternative mode of transportation for travelling the city. Full or partial nudity is encouraged as well as creative expression, but is not mandatory. The event attracts all shapes and sizes, ages and genders. Groups start at various collection points around the city before converging in Westminster and riding a looped route to finish at the Wellington Arch.


Demonstration against Tory-DUP Alliance – Westminster, London – 10 June 2017

A demonstration took place in London following news that the Conservative party would be calling on the Democratic Unionist Party to create the required majority in Parliament. Fears that the DUP would be given the chance to promote their extreme views brought out protesters from LGBT and women’s rights groups, with further demonstrators against racism and austerity adding to the numbers. After rallying on Parliament Square many of the protesters marched on Downing Street.

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The Color Run – Wembley Park, London – 11 June 2017

Labelled as ‘the happiest 5k on the planet’, The Color Run is an un-timed celebration of health and colour, with groups of friends and families running, walking, jogging, dancing and partying their way along the course at any pace, raising money for the NSPCC charity. At each kilometre the runners are sprayed in kaleidoscopic powder, plus one shower of foam. As the runners finish the course they gather round the Finish Festival Stage with ‘pumping’ music and more colour explosions. First held in 2012 in the US – hence the spelling – ‘The Color Run’ has since spread around the world. Runners are handed ponchos on leaving to help keep the powder from spreading to transport seats, and fellow passengers!